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The importance of the lost arts of play, doing nothing and just being

 

On recent more balmy summer days it has been a great pleasure watching children mucking around on beaches, doing what kids have always done at seasides, build sandcastles, play make-believe games, muse, have fun, go with the flow not knowing what is going to next trigger their imaginations. It has been equally nice to be one of the many adults mulling around footpaths, sitting around on benches, not worrying much about having an agenda. This seems an increasingly rare experience in a world where there are more and more pressures, life is incredibly timetabled, increasingly so for children as well as adults, and there is such a lot of focus on achievement, on doing, on things to aim for like grades, and so little emphasis on just being. As Jon Kabat Zinn, the mindfulness guru suggests, maybe we are becoming human doings and not human beings! I worry that just being is becoming a lost art and that life is becoming much poorer as a result.

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The lost joys of playing and just being

Speaking to several parents in the last week, and children I work with, I was reminded of what a regimented and over-organised world we now live in, one in which there is so little time to  ‘just be’, to allow creative thoughts and imagination to grow and to do what it needs to help children and adults to become generative and develop their own thoughts and ideas.  I suggested to one dad what I suggest rather often, which is that he just take 15 minutes , or even 10, each day to spend in following his child’s play. He looked aghast and panicked, how on earth could he fit that in, what with after school karate, maths, football club, violin and French, chores to do for him, homework to supervise, and so the list went on. I was not surprised at the panic, I felt my own anxiety levels rising as I listened.

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Recent Comments
Guest — John Whitwell
Hi really enjoyed your blog on play. You might like my paper, The Serious Business of Play, which is on my website.
Thursday, 30 January 2014 23:48
Guest — graham m
thanks John, link to John's interesting article http://www.johnwhitwell.co.uk/index.php/the-serious-business-of-play/... Read More
Friday, 07 February 2014 14:29
Guest — Jude Danby
Enjoyed your blog. I am interested in how these ideas apply to adult learners. I teach and appraise doctors and our assessments ar... Read More
Friday, 31 January 2014 10:01
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